RBS made bad, but honest, decisions before the financial crisis: UK regulator
RBS required a bailout partially supported by British taxpayers because of several "bad decisions," but those actions can not be considered fraudulent or dishonest, the U.K.'s Financial Services Authority determined. The Royal Bank of Scotland — often ranked as the world's largest bank with an estimated $3.8 trillion in assets — reached those heights through aggressive expansion in the years leading up to the financial crisis. As part of the bailout conditions, the U.K.'s financial services regulator investigated the bank to see if any regulatory rules had been broken by RBS in the years before the crisis. The FSA found that RBS did nothing that requires enforcement actions, after it completed that investigation with the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Between Jan. 5, 2009, and May 7, 2010, RBS Securities also traded more than $82 billion in mortgage-backed securities with the Federal Reserve. "This work considered if regulatory rules had been broken and what, if any, action was appropriate," the FSA said in a statement. "The review was necessarily extensive and looked specifically at the conduct of senior individuals at the bank, the acquisition of ABN AMRO in 2007 and the 2008 capital raisings." "[T]hese bad decisions were not the result of a lack of integrity by any individual, and we did not identify any instances of fraud or dishonest activity by RBS senior individuals or a failure of governance on the part of the board," the FSA concludes. The financial regulator, for the most part, considers the matter closed and will now turn its attention to the behavior of other financial firms during the same time period. However, it added that it may take into account the competence of certain, unnamed RBS employees in any future applications to work at other, FSA-regulated firms. If future actions are taken, the FSA said it will make the information available to the public. The information gathered for the RBS investigation, on the other hand, will remain confidential. Write to Jacob Gaffney.